The year was 1965 and Boris Karloff was now 77 years old. At a time that most actors have long since retired or found that Hollywood has left them behind, Karloff was still in demand. Only his health was keeping him from the busy schedule he once had. His arthritis and emphysema were crippling at times, leaving him wheelchair bound and on oxygen. Yet, there were days when his stamina was high and he would move about as well as a man of 77 could. Still under contract to American International Pictures, his next effort would be Die, Monster, Die!
The movie was based loosely on the H.P. Lovecraft story The Colour Out of Space. It could have benefited from more work on the script as writer Jerry Sohl should have read Lovecraft a little more. What we are left with is a rather boring tale about Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams), an American scientist who visits the home of his fiancée, finding scorched earth and an enormous crater. As usual, the local townsfolk are fearful of Nahum Whitley (Boris Karloff), the girl’s father, because of his mysterious experiments. The radiation from a meteor is mutating the plants and the end results are horrifying. Suffice to say, the movie had great potential but failed in execution due to a very lackluster script. Karloff does what he can with the role, which is ultimately very little. And no, that was not actually Karloff in the end of the movie but a stunt double. His health clearly prevented that kind of movement anymore.
After working as a set designer on some of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films, such as House of Usher (1960) and The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), he would make his directorial debut with Die, Monster, Die!. He would get another shot at Lovecraft with The Dunwich Horror (1970) but most of the rest of his work would be done on television. Nick Adams was a popular young actor becoming known for his television work, which included his own series The Rebel, as well as Frankenstein Conquers The World and Invasion of Astro-Monster, both done in 1965. Sadly, he would pass away in 1968 at the age of only 36 due to a drug overdose.
Karloff was a man who could not say no. Right before doing this film, he appeared in a cameo role in Bikini Beach, substituting for his friend Peter Lorre, who had passed away before production began. Right after Die, Monster, Die! wrapped, it was off to Hollywood for a guest appearance on the television series Shindig to read the Peppermint Twist and another cameo in the movie The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini. He would guest star on The Wild, Wild West and I,Spy while lending his voice for such productions as The Daydreamer and Mad Monster Party?. However, his narration of How The Grinch Stole Christmas! was something he dearly loved as he enjoyed giving back to children and greatly appreciated the work of Theodor Geisel aka Dr. Seuss. It continues to be one of his most well-known works today, heard numerous times every holiday season.
Check out the trailer for Die, Monster, Die! as you shop around for the Blu-ray. I recommend you buy it only if you are obsessive about having a complete collection. It’s not horrible but, honestly, not that good either. But it does look great, so at least there is that going for it.
Next time, we leap ahead to 1967 as Karloff is back in the UK for The Sorcerers. And here is your fair warning, I won’t be stopping with Day 31 as there is too much Karloff for just one month. Mark your calendars because there will be posts through November 2! Then maybe I’ll take a rest!